Boston Qualifier Questionnaire –Mike R

Name: Mike R

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38.6

Height (at the time of first BQ):  69″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 137

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Flying Pig

Tell us a little about the race. My BQ race was my second marathon and second Flying Pig. I had to drop 20 minutes to qualify but my training leading up to the race was sound and my 5K times had dropped by a few minutes.

On race day I remember going out too fast as usual and it taking several miles to settle in to a pace I thought I could hold the rest of the race. By mile 23 I was on pace to finish about 5 minutes below the BQ time for my age group (3:15:59 at the time).

Miles 24-26.2 were very difficult. The race conditions for early May were on the colder side. It was 43-45 degrees for the entire race with a light rain for the first 10 miles. There was also a 12-15 mph headwind. The wind and the cold/damp conditions combined with the typical fatigue late in the race had my pace fall from mid 7s to mid 8s late in the race. My last mile was my slowest at 8:47.

I think I realized as I was approaching the finish line that I would qualify but was too fatigued to celebrate. I believe I had a mild case of hypothermia at that point.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? About 2.5 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? About 1,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 745 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5 races

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, Hal Higdon Novice Plan

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? No

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? No

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? The Higdon novice program barely got me to a BQ but given my level of experience, the lower mileage is what I needed. It was the same plan I used in my first marathon the year before. I have since had much more success with Higdon’s intermediate program and the Pfitz 18/55 plan mainly due to the prescribed speedwork and more experience. Try to hit the track and run the tempos when your plan calls for them.

As always, if you don’t stay healthy, you can’t run the miles and then you feel like you need to play catch-up. That doesn’t always work. As I have gotten older, I’ve found that mixing in softer surfaces helps to avoid injury. My mileage now consists of about 50% trails.

Don’t let the weather keep you from running. I did 109 of my 437 training miles on a treadmill the year I first qualified. Spring marathons mean training through some nasty winter weather sometimes.

If you can, try to run the same course in training. Get to know the course and know when you need to slow down or are able to pick up the pace. The Flying Pig is hilly but the big hills are in the first 8 miles.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Cris Gutierrez

Name: Cris Gutierrez

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 25

Height (at the time of first BQ): 5’11  

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 130

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Erie Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. I had run competitively in college up until my last season of graduate school in 2016. I had moved to a new city and struggled to get back to running consistently aside from local pub runs. I swore I would never run a marathon; years of people asking me when I would run one had me turned off at the idea of it. Eventually some people at run club had convinced me to do it and with the help of a night of drinking and a cheap entry fee I signed up for Erie. I had no intention of running Boston. I figured I would get a qualifier but I would just run Erie to say I could qualify and that’s it.

Going into Erie I had peaked out at 80 miles a week with a 20 mile long run with the last 10 at 6:00’s. Then I got hurt a couple weeks into it and hoped that I could just muscle through it. Went out conservatively for 10 at 6:20 pace and cranked the pace down. Ended up with about a 4 minute negative split and ran 2:41:05, good for 8th. Could barely walk afterward and figured this would be the last time I did it. A couple days later signups for Boston opened up and I made the decision to sign up.

The training journey to Boston changed my perspective toward the distance and made me a better runner. I trained much harder going into this buildup and while I did get hurt coming into Boston I still managed a big PR, 2:34:46 good for top Ohio finisher in 2019. Boston broke me at 22 but I finished the race realizing that I had some potential at the distance and decided to pursue marathoning. I ran my 3rd marathon in October to PR again with a 2:30:25. I’m heading back to Boston this spring for some redemption. I’m working on staying healthy and trying to break deep under 2:30. Regardless if this ends up being my last Boston for the foreseeable future (I want to run the other majors) I credit Boston for reigniting my love of running and inspiring me to chase after a crazy goal to make a certain race in 2024.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 12 Years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 20,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 876

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 1

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? no

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? Training philosophy was just to get to peak at 80 miles a week and complete a 20 miler with the last 10 at Goal Marathon Pace

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? No

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I cross trained when I got hurt. That’s basically it. Stationary bike.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? No.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Chris H

Name: Chris H

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 51 years, 11 months

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5′ 10″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? I have BQ’d three times, 2015, 2016 and 2019, all at the BoA Chicago Marathon. Only my 2016 time was fast enough to make the BQ cutoff.

Tell us a little about the race. Pretty good day for a race, temps were good, and Chicago is always pretty fast. I had qualified to be B corral, so I was up front and ahead of most slower runners. I needed a 3:30 and planned for a sub-3:25 to give me the 5 minute qualifying cushion that everyone shoots for. I basically intended to run a little under 8 min miles and ended with an 7:49 average pace. I ran a 3:25:08.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? I started keeping track of my miles in 1989, so 26 years or so.

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 20,043 (so glad I have kept track of my miles over the years.)

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Total miles in 2015 was 2112.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Lots of 5K’s and short tri’s, but only one half marathon and one full.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, For marathons I use a Nike Advanced plan that was promoted by the Chicago Marathon, and for Ironman I use Be Iron Fit.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Absolutely! I firmly believe that the training I do for Ironman triathlons pushed me into the zone of being able to qualify. I believe that was the most beneficial aspect of my BQ.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, the typical fartleks and intervals at various distances were employed.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? It boils down to four factors for me to finally qualify for Boston. First, I had to stop winging it and follow a plan. This brought down my time significantly, but still left me with a good 10 minute deficit to make up to qualify.

Secondly, I started a running streak (at least a mile a day on 1/1/15.) This improved my fitness and running strength. I kept at that streak for 4 years and ended it the day after running the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Third, and most importantly, I became a triathlete and started doing Ironman training and races. This taught me so much about building to a goal, as well as proper nutrition during the race, an aspect that I had previously given very little attention to. In 2016, I also did Ironman Lake Placid in July and then started my training for Chicago after a brief recovery.

And lastly, I was patient and aged to the point where my abilities were more in line with the qualifying standards. My son qualified at 24 years of age, there was no way I could have done that.

Thanks for allowing me to share my experience.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire –Andrew

Name: Andrew

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 24

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’0

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 155-160

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Marine Corps Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. I was incredibly excited to run my first marathon, particularly so with the incredible atmosphere and support that comes from one of our nation’s most historic marathons in our nation’s capital. I was equally nervous, despite what I considered being well prepared, as I certainly had a healthy respect (and some fear) for the distance.

Because I was in unchartered territory with MCM being my first full, my time goal ranged significantly from anywhere from 2:45-under 3:00. Workouts indicated I was capable of the former, but seeing and hearing horror stories about the final 10k and how the wheels can come off in a very real way left me cautious and not overly ambitious.

I remember feeling incredible for the first half and having to force myself to not run faster than my body was trying to get me to go at the time, hitting the half in am what felt like a very relaxed 1:22 low. I continued to feel good through about 16-17, when it got noticeably more challenging to keep 6:15s going. I maintained pace through 20 or so when I started to fade slightly. The last 10k is essentially an out and back, with the out moving away from the city and away from spectators and support. The crowd and energy throughout was amazing, but I definitely felt its absence on the lonely stretch from miles 20-23. By that point, I was in significant pain, different than all of the track and XC races I had experienced. The last mile, I would’ve sworn I was running 9 minute pace or worse, which I later found out was about 7:25 or 7:30. My body and mind were gone at that point and I was just trying to get to the finish line so I could stop! I ended up in 2:49:37 for about a 5 minute positive split.

My good friend was also running his first and anticipated finishing around 4:00. I said depending on how I felt, I would try to run in the last mile or so with him. I look back on that hopeful promise and laugh, realizing how naive I was about what the effort would take out of me.

Overall, it was an amazing first marathon experience!

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 12-16 years depending on what counts as training

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? really hard to even guess… 12-15,000 miles?

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? I’m guessing I was around 50-60 miles per week for the buildup on average, although I don’t have my specific logs from that time.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 3 or 4 including the marathon?

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, Get consistent miles in and focus on solid long runs. Most long runs became progression/tempo runs which got me physically and mentally tough and ready to hurt.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Hardly at all.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I did a few Yasso 800 workouts and tempo runs. Coaching HS at the time, I did most of what the kids did with some modifications, so there was definitely hill work and other quicker workouts I am having trouble recalling at the moment!

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Be realistic in you time goals, especially for the first one. Put in the miles, respect the distance and practice fueling consistently before hand. You will lose more calories and water than you realize. Shoot for a general time goal but don’t let that overshadow your accomplishment of finishing a very difficult feat. Enjoy the experience and give yourself adequate time to recover with some very easy active recovery before jumping back into things.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Matt

Name: Matt

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 60

Height (at the time of first BQ): 6′ 0″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 145

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Toronto Waterfront

Tell us a little about the race. Was never really in doubt. Slowed down midway so as to not mess it up.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 2 years (after an extremely long layoff)

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? unknown

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2200

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 2

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, Day to day decisions based on feel stressing more miles.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? No

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? No

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Set a long term goal and grind out weekly miles.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — George

Name: George

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 23

Height (at the time of first BQ): 5’10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Rock n’ Roll Raleigh (2017)

Tell us a little about the race. It was my marathon debut – was getting back into running after taking a short break. I was running in college before but was very out of shape and had no idea what it would be like to race beyond 10 miles. So basically your usual first marathon story – first half was 77, hit 20 miles in 2 hours, and finished in 2:45 aka blew up. In retrospect the course was very hilly too.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 8 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 20,000?

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? At most 1500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 1

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? no

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? No? But then again I didn’t do long workouts – the volume hovered around 60 and the toughest workout was 4 x 1 mile, which was probably at faster than 5k pace if I’m being honest

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? All these answers just show my stupidity/arrogance in leading up to my first marathon, and I wouldn’t advise following the training I just outlined. Build the volume, get an accountability partner/coach, and do longer/slower workouts

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Dave M

Name: Dave M

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 28

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’0″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 170

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Colorado Marathon (Fort Collins, CO)

Tell us a little about the race. Great course: point to point with a large net downhill. It is at altitude though, so if you’re not from the mountains could be a struggle. Really pretty course though, with most along the Cache la Poudre river. Race went exactly to plan, going out faster the first half and then hanging on for the flatter last 6-7 miles.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 14 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 16,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 0

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 4

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, up to 90 mile weeks. Some speed work thrown in. Long runs up to 24 miles. Just lots of consistency. Strength is the key to the marathon.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Only when hurt. I would ride my bike

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, lots of tempos and some intervals. My key workout was a 10 mile tempo straight into 6 x 800m on the track at slightly below goal marathon pace. That was a killer workout.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I signed up for Boston after my first qualifying, but didn’t get to run due to injury. 10 years later and I just qualified again last year (at the Lake Place Marathon). So I’m signed up for Boston 2020, and trying to stay healthy this time. More recently I’ve been doing very little speed work (mostly just occasional tempo runs). Just trying to get good base and hitting my long runs pretty hard.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Chris

Name: Chris

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 52, about a week before turning 53

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’ 10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Beautiful day, temperature was good. I ran nice and even splits, planning to hold 7:45 pace. Stayed on point with my nutrition during the race, avoided the wall and gutted it out for the last 5k. I executed my plan pretty well and was just slightly off my planned pace, ending with 7:52 pace per mile. Wanted to be under the BQ by 5 minutes, missing it by 9 seconds. Finished with a marathon PR of 3:25:08.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 26 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? About 22,000 miles. I started a running log in 1989

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Marathons? 13, including 1 Ironman.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, Be Iron Fit, an Ironman training program, and a Nike Advanced 16-week marathon plan.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Training for an Ironman was without a doubt the most important aspect of my ability to become a better runner. It made me a much more well-rounded athlete and runner. I lost weight, didn’t just overtax my legs, and supplemented my running ability through building additional strength through cycling.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? The plan definitely had speed work built into it, but more important to my success was training by HR and staying in the appropriate zones.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? In a nutshell here’s what got me a BQ:
1. I stopped winging it and started following a plan.
2. I became a triathlete and Ironman and became a much more well-rounded athlete.
3. I learned how to fuel myself from Ironman and applied it to the marathon.
4. I started a running streak a year and 10 months prior to my BQ. It helped my body adapt to the workload and made me stronger.
5. Lastly, I was patient and got to the point age-wise where my abilities finally met the Boston standards.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Paul D

Name: Paul D

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 56

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’7

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 158

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Mesa-Phoenix

Tell us a little about the race. The course was a net downhill. The weather was perfect. I ran with a friend that was shooting for the same time. He fell off the pace before 15 miles which sucked since he was the keeper of the time and had the wrist band with the per mile pace goals. I was running with my iPhone and Apple watch. They died before I had gone 12 miles. I ran the 2nd 1/2 of the race totally by feel and BQ’d with an extra 3.5 minutes. I knew I was close to a BQ so I pushed hard for the last 10K ( at least I thought I had even though the last 10K were actually a tad slower).

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 3.5 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 5,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2,200

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 2 marathons one 1/2 marathon and a 50K

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, Nike Run Club App.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? No. But now I’m doing pushups to improve core and upper body strength.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Definitely! I did track workouts just about every Wednesday and tempo runs on Friday.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I never thought a BQ would be possible. I went from couch to marathon in less than a year. My first Marathon was 4:35 the second was 3:58, The next was 3:41:30 (1.5 minutes short of a BQ) . At that point I started to believe a BQ was possible. For my first two marathons I simply ran miles and got up to 80 miles a week. I actually dropped back on my mileage (50-60) and added speed work to get my BQ. I never stop until I’m at the top of the hill. I never cut a corner, and I always ran a little farther and a little faster than the plan specified. I did that so I would know that I did all that was required and more to hit that goal and had no reason to doubt myself. That plus I spent a lot of time determining and analyzing what pace I needed to run and how much weight I needed to lose to achieve the pace I wanted to hit. I got down to a low of 156 (158 at race time ) which seems heavy compared to the weight of a lot of the people that I’ve seen in this survey, but I managed to pull it off. I hope to have a 6+ minute pr when I run Boston 2020 I’m using the Boston Marathon Level 3 training plan this time around and have been doing 100+ pushups a day to add some upper body and core strength.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Kurt Stolberg

Name: Kurt Stolberg

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 33

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’5″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 199 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Mississauga Marathon (Canada)

Tell us a little about the race. 21st marathon, 20th BQ attempt. 2 key changes:

1. Finally diagnosed with an allergy to ‘the environment’, so proper drugs helped me not breathe through a straw for the last 2-15km of the past few marathons. Couple that with a decent mileage base and #2,
2. Improved my cadence over 14 months preceding, from 158spm to 170spm. tip: whatever cadence you have, don’t let it slip as you get tired.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 14 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 11,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1,185 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?  2

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, Loosely based on Hal Higdon Adv 1, but adapted for run-commuting (lots of 8 milers)

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? No – it just gets in the way (hockey, canoeing, hiking)

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes – got my vo2max up 4 pts in 3 months preceding the race

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Never quit! If you love running, just keep enjoying it, keep tweaking things, reading, researching, improving, rehabilitating after injuries, etc and with enough drive, anyone can get there if this late-in-range (33 year old, so sub-3) heavyweight (2.6lbs per inch) with 3 knee surgeries and many failed BQ attempts can.

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